Servers wind between tables at Spettu's Steakhouse, brandishing skewers of 14 different cuts of spit-roasted rodizio meats. Upon request, they stop tableside and carve slices of boneless pork loin, top sirloin, and marinara lamb directly onto diners' plates, unleashing the aromas of traditional Brazilian Churrascaria rotisserie. Between servings of regular or Halal cuts of meat, patrons can make unlimited visits to a buffet loaded with 40 different salads, meats, and rice dishes. Overhead, a panoramic photo of Rio de Janeiro unfurls placid blue seas as parrot figurines keep watch over the buffet's cracker supply.
The aromas of hickory-smoked meats and rotisserie sauces spiral upward from the dark, wooden tables at Porky's BBQ and Grill, a haven for lovers of all things barbecue. Here, tangy tastes range from St. Louis–style ribs to Texas-style beef brisket to slow-baked beans culled from the bubbling pit of barbecue sauce that lies under Kansas City. As patrons dig into Southern sides, rustic aluminum siding and tree-trunk poles conjure the atmosphere of a country hideaway. In the winter, Porky’s opens its doors from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and serves dinner Thursday–Saturday during the warmer months of May and beyond.
As guests pass under Lewis' Restaurant and Grille's festive blue marquee, they enter an inviting world of Americana, with a bar that has been in place for generations and a kitchen offering up the appetizing aroma of freshly baked pizzas and Angus beef burgers. Guests share plates of buttermilk pancakes and eggs benedict during Sunday brunches and savor the tastes of inventive burgers and sandwiches, such as caprese-salad burgers or chicken-pesto sandwiches drizzled with balsamic reduction, all week long. Upscale haddock and salmon entrees satisfy refined palates, and a spread of bar food pleases crowds with chicken-finger baskets, tots, and tuna melts.
Though it has welcomed in families and bar regulars for decades, Lewis' has recently updated its interior with new bamboo flooring in the dining room and crisp dollar bills in the bar's cash register. Patrons regularly join in special events hosted by the bar, such as Tuesday-night trivia, where first-placers win a cash prize.
Rick's Roadhouse comforts empty stomachs with a menu of house-cooked barbecue inspired by small-town restaurants along Route 66, earning plaudits from NECN's TV Diner. Chefs rub half ($12.99) and full ($19.99) racks of ribs with seasoning, slowly smoke the meat over hickory and applewood, and then slather on a signature barbecue sauce to slick meats down for tabletop wrestling matches against corn-bread, baked-bean, and coleslaw sides. Steak frites showcases grilled Montreal- or Cajun-style aged meat ($13.99), and daily-ground bison burgers drip with a house-made steak sauce ($9.99). Alternatively, diners can punch nonbarbecue coordinates into their fork’s GPS to reach sizzling chicken fajitas ($11.99). Experienced restaurateur John Elkhay crafts an informal atmosphere to complement Rick's smoked eats, inviting diners to deconstruct ribs on an outdoor patio or keep their noses pointed toward the open kitchen inside a colorful dining room. Patrons can pause between bites to sink corner shots at a pool table or watch pro thumb-wrestling tournaments on wall-mounted TVs.
The Boston Globe recognized United BBQ in its list of 10 best barbecue joints in New England in 2009. It won the southern barbecue category from Rhode Island Monthly's Best of Rhode Island in 2009. The Providence Journal and Providence Phoenix also reviewed United BBQ.
Smoke is the barbecuer master's livelihood, but it's a delicate substance—too much and your meat tastes charred, too little and it's bland. Thankfully, Chris Thompson and Kate Economides have learned to tame the fickle ingredient. They smoke all of their meats on-site at Blackstrap BBQ, monitoring the slow-cooked pieces for hours on end. Their supply of oak wood lends a deliciously burnt tinge to brisket, sausage, chicken, and ribs, which are then rubbed with spices and arranged with down-home sides.
It can be hard to pick your meal, though, as The Boston Globe magazine attests: "Everything on the blackboard is irresistible." A classic single-meat plate comes with two sides and cornbread, but you can also pile sauce-covered bites between sandwich buns, which let you eat with your hands instead of large, unwieldy jai alai scoops. Then there's the Hog—a kielbasa wrapped in bacon, smoked, fried, and put on a roll. Most entrees come with sides, ranging from baked beans and collard greens to sweet-maple mashed potatoes.
Depending on your choice of meat, you get to sample different regional tastes. Ribs get a Memphis-style dry rub, whereas the pulled pork follows North and South Carolina traditions, and the brisket is all Texas. Kate and Chris serve these signature suppers from their Winthrop kitchen, but they also convey them to events through their catering business, Tastyplates.